Forceful letdown or fast flow

Forfceful letdown

Too much milk

So your milk has come in and you are elated your baby is finally getting that larger volume of food to help your baby gain weight and be full, happy, and hopefully sleep a little better. However after feeding your baby, you notice baby is fussy, gassy, and spitting up a lot!  After several feedings, you notice it keeps happening. What’s going on here?  Breastfeeding is natural right? So why does it seem to be a struggle now that the good stuff has arrived?

Stemming the tide

Many moms, not matter how much milk you have on board, can have a forceful letdown or fast flow. You may even be able to shoot your milk across the room at the beginning of feeds. Imagine this force of milk going straight down babies throat during feeds. Babies start nursing with nice strong sucks, as they have been learning to do from the beginning, but now when the milk lets down, baby starts to choke, gag, sputter and seem in distress. Babies tend to pop off the breast a lot, trying to deal with the flow, but eagerly goes back to the breast, as they are hungry. When relatching, the milk can still be overwhelming during the first few minutes of the feed. This leads to more air being swallowed, thus more gassiness and spitting up after the feed, sometimes up to 20 minutes after baby has finished the feed. If baby spits up a lot of the milk, then baby is still hungry, as much of the meal has left the baby’s stomach, leading to lots of cluster feedings, fussy baby and tired parents. Over time, babies can become very frustrated with breastfeeding due to the flow and may refuse to nurse all together.

How to help with forceful letdown

  1. Try reclining far back in a chair or feeding lying down as gravity only makes the milk flow faster. This is an easy tip and works for many moms. 
  2. Let baby start nursing to initiate the letdown. You could pump or hand express also to initiate this letdown, but baby usually does it best and there’s nothing to clean up afterwards. As soon as you notice baby starting to gulp or you feel your letdown starting, unlatch baby and hand express your milk into a burp rag for 30-60 seconds.  Relatch your baby after 30-60 seconds of expression and watch baby for continued struggles with the flow. If your baby is drinking in a rhythmic pattern, doesn’t seem distressed, and isn’t popping off as much, continue to let baby nurse. If your baby still seems to be struggling with the flow, repeat the steps again.
  3. Burp baby once or twice during the feed on the first breast. Finish the first side first, and then latch to the second side after burping. You may need to repeat this for the second side also.  Burp well, up to 15-20 minutes after a feeding and keep baby propped upright to continue helping baby deal with the air bubbles. 
  4. It’s always important to watch your baby’s cues during the feeding as babies give off lots of non-verbal communication and that can help you understand baby better, leading to breastfeeding success.  Be patient and consistent – continue these tips for a few feeds in a row to notice a difference.  

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